Forma Therapeutics Gets Michael J. Fox Foundation Grant to Expand Parkinson’s Research

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by Charles Moore |

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FORMA Therapeutics has received a research grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to expand its efforts to find a treatment for the disease.

FORMA is conducting its protein-based research in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and the UK Medical Research Council (MRC). The work focuses on protein equilibrium and mitochondrial function, biological processes that could be used to develop new treatments for Parkinson’s. The mitochondria components of cells transform food into energy.

Key members of the research team include University of Liverpool Professors Michael Clague and Sylvie Urbé, and Dr. David Komander, who specializes in protein and nucleic acid at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge. They are working with Dr. Stephanos Ioannidis, FORMA’s lead investigator, on neurodegenerative disease treatment discovery and development.

Cells create millions of new proteins every minute, and they must be “transported to the correct location, folded, modified and assembled with other proteins in order to function properly,” according to the MRC lab. “Failure along any of these maturation steps can reduce protein function and lead to the accumulation of aberrant protein intermediates, resulting in disease.”

FORMA said recent research suggests that members of the deubiquitinase (DUB) protein family, which are critical to protein homeostasis, or equilibrium, are key players in mitophagy, or the deterioration of mitochondria.

Targeting DUB to eliminate abnormal mitochondria could lead to a treatment for Parkinson’s, researchers said. The Michael J. Fox grant will support the development of DUB-targeting compounds that could be used as a Parkinson’s therapy.

“While accumulating evidence implicate[s] defective mitochondria in PD pathology, exactly how DUBs regulate mitophagy is unclear,” Shalini Padmanabhan, the Fox Foundation’s associate director of research programs, said in a press release. “We hope this award will enable FORMA and its neurodegenerative disease alliance with leading investigators to understand the role of DUBs in clearance of damaged mitochondria and potentially lead to a promising treatment approach for PD patients.”

“We are honored to receive recognition from MJFF for our research in protein homeostasis and to collaborate with its network in PD. This award provides support to further enable innovative research with our talented collaborators in the UK,” said John Hohneker, MD, EVP, FORMA’s director of research and development “We hope to gain a deeper understanding of the role of DUBs in PD that will ultimately facilitate the advancement of new therapies for patients.”

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is the world’s largest non-profit funder of Parkinson’s research. It has given $650 million to research organizations. For more information, visit:

FORMA Therapeutics’ research philosophy combines deep biology insight, scientific chemistry expertise, and early development of treatments that it hopes will help those with Parkinson’s and other diseases. The company’s research efforts involve experts from around the world. The programs are aimed at speeding potential treatments through the lab and clinical-trials stages and into the hands of clinicians and patients. For more information, visit:

FORMA Therapeutics
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research(MJFF)
University of Liverpool
Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology